Should I Become a Boiler Engineer?
Boiler engineers, also known as boiler operators or stationary engineers, maintain and operate the temperature and ventilation systems for large facilities or plants. They might operate equipment such as steam engines, boilers, turbines, fans and furnaces. They calibrate systems to the facilities' requirements, perform maintenance and troubleshoot or repair defective or worn equipment. Many physical hazards exists for these engineers, and they must carefully follow all safety precautions to remain unharmed.
|Degree Level||Apprenticeship; certificate, associate's degree|
|Degree Field||Stationary engineering|
|Licensure and Certification||Some states and municipalities require licensing; professional certifications are available|
|Experience||Amount of necessary experience depends on boiler type and licensing rules; stationary engineer apprenticeships last an average of four years|
|Key Skills||Ability to monitor equipment, critical thinking, problem solving, ability to work with specialized facilities-management software, expertise in pressure gauges, pumps, compressors and welding equipment|
|Salary (2014)||$56,330 yearly (median)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, School websites (January 2013), International Union of Operating Engineers, Professional certification websites, O*Net Online
Step 1: Gain Work Experience
Many aspiring boiler operators are trained on the job, though they might complete a formal apprenticeship or training courses offered by unions, vocational schools or community colleges.. They may begin in entry-level assistant or technician positions under the supervision of experienced boiler operators. In many cases, only a high school diploma is required in order to secure an entry-level position.
- Ask about training opportunities. Some employers pay for employee training, so an aspiring boiler operator might want to ask prospective employers if they cover costs for attending local training classes.
Step 2: Complete a Formal Training Program
Some would-be boiler engineers complete apprenticeships or postsecondary training programs. In these programs, students learn about heating and ventilation, safety precautions, and technical instrumentation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, apprenticeships usually take four years to complete; they include extensive hands-on training combined with classroom sessions. A few colleges offer stationary engineering programs that lead to a certificate or an associate's degree.
Step 3: Become Licensed
Some states and cities require boiler operators to hold a license before working without supervision. Requirements vary, but may include completing a specific amount of work experience and an exam. State licensing boards can provide aspiring boiler operators with licensing requirements and information needed to file an application.
Step 4: Consider Earning Professional Certification
Several professional organizations offer voluntary certification opportunities for boiler operators, including the National Association of Power Engineers. Standards vary depending on the type of certification, but organizations often require a combination of education and work experience. Applicants also need to pass an exam.
Step 5: Meet Continuing Education Requirements
Some states require boiler operators to complete continuing education classes as a condition of license renewal. Similarly, boiler operators may need to renew their certifications by taking continuing education classes as well. Career advancement is generally by learning to operate and/or becoming certified on larger and varied machinery.